Hochevar And The Perspicacity of Hope Reviewed by Momizat on . Last Wednesday, The Royals announced that they were shifting Luke Hochevar away from the starting rotation and into a role within an already-crowded bullpen. An Last Wednesday, The Royals announced that they were shifting Luke Hochevar away from the starting rotation and into a role within an already-crowded bullpen. An Rating:
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Hochevar And The Perspicacity of Hope

Hochevar And The Perspicacity of Hope

Last Wednesday, The Royals announced that they were shifting Luke Hochevar away from the starting rotation and into a role within an already-crowded bullpen. And although we should consider this move as the organization’s recognition that Hochevar will never be what they have hoped upon, the proper move would be to simply cut ties and release him.

This winter, the Royals signed Hochevar for $4.56 million, avoiding arbitration (for emphasis, here it is written long-hand: $4,560,000). The terms they settled on included a tacit understanding that Hochevar was, is, and would be a starting pitcher. The Royals assumed that regardless of how woeful he has been over the breadth of his career, he has been reasonably healthy, he sprinkles in a few gems, and he would at least give you innings: all things you like to see out of the bottom end of your rotation. Although $4.56m isn’t nothing, in their eyes it was an acceptable price on a known quantity who may have still had some upside a la Gil Meche.

That dream is gone now. Three months after handing him four and a half million dollars, any and all illusions about Hochevar as a starting pitcher have faded. Without a rash of injuries, there is no perceivable way that he will pitch his way back to being a starter. If Crow’s two years of steady success and improvement haven’t earned him a look, then two months of Hochevar being reasonably good in lower-leverage situations shouldn’t do it either.

Last year, the Royals paid Jonathan Broxton $4 million to see if he could revitalize his career following injury. They then flipped him for J.C. Sulbaran and Donnie Joseph, who may very well make the team this year as a LOOGY. They may believe that they can do the same with Hochevar, but there is very little evidence to support that. Broxton had a track record of dominance as a closer for the Dodgers; Hochevar doesn’t. Broxton, while not exactly lights-out, was used accordingly in the back-end of games, accruing the one stat (saves) that GMs continue to love for some reason; Hochevar decidedly will not. He will be the sixth-inning guy (if needed) and may see a couple innings in a game in garbage time. Very few teams are looking to trade for guys like that, and the Royals have guys that are more-than-capable of performing those roles.

It is likely that the Royals have perceived both Hochevar and fellow member of the “$4.5m-Club” Bruce Chen as expendable since trading for James Shields and Wade Davis. They have come out and said as much, and if they aren’t saying it then others certainly are. With the likes of Mendoza and Will Smith, it is understandable that the Royals would want to move one or both of them.

The problem, though, is that they could have been free and clear from one of them by simply not tendering Hochevar. Regardless of his role, paying him more than Broxton was a mistake. Running him out every fifth day for the last two years was a mistake. Moving him to the bullpen is a mistake, insomuch that he shouldn’t even be on the roster.

The Royals’ handling of Hochevar, both from a player management perspective and a business perspective, has been flawed. They are inching their way towards the inevitable conclusion that Hochevar just doesn’t hold up as a viable option for a Major League team, particularly one with budget constraints. They are making the best of a bad situation, but it is a situation wrought by their own incompetence.

 

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About The Author

Joshua Ward

A Lee's Summit resident currently working on a degree in Communications at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Although I have grown up a Royals fan, I've only been writing about the team off-and-on over the last two years, mostly at Royals Review. I do my best to play the part of an online blogger by living in a basement. In my spare time, I volunteer at my church, working mostly in the student ministry on video production and editing or assisting the technical arts director with lighting and sound. I remember Shawn Sedlacek and Eduardo Villacis. I know that Runelvys Hernandez had a pretty good month one year. I like to bring up Albie Lopez for no reason at all. MVP Baseball 2005 is the best baseball game ever made.

Number of Entries : 44

Comments (4)

  • jim fetterolf

    DUF, there were lots of rumors and several teams going after Shields, so I don’t think Dayton Moore had any certainty that his rotation was set and Luke wouldn’t be needed.

    The tender was long-discussed and most were aware that ultimately it came down to perceived need. As it turned out Luke wasn’t needed, but that’s a good thing. Now it’s just a matter of getting some game value from him and trying to enhance trade value because it’s getting crowded.

    I would use Luke Hochevar as a set-up man, Aaron Crow with a couple of extra pitches, and look to making him a closer, letting Greg Holland go back to fireman, which he was great at, rather than closer where he reminds me more of Jon Broxton than Jack Soria. Then trade Luke at the ASB and move Herrera to closer and bring Ventura up to get his feet wet in the ‘pen. We may see Hochevar get a couple of starts, maybe in Fenway, but if he can handle relief then other teams will see him as a reliever with potential to start rather than failed starter, which makes him more valuable to a GM who trusts his pitching coach.

  • Erik Gratton

    Dutton reported yesterday that the move to the ‘pen was a salvage act aimed at letting Hoch turn the corner and eventually return to the rotation. Any small salvage credit I gave the FO for the move has expired.

  • DownUnderFan

    Jim, I have to say that you are VERY optimistic with your assessment. By the way, Hochevar was tendered 9 days before THE TRADE. However, THE TRADE had been rumored for more than a week during the winter meetings and it is no doubt that Moore was considering THE TRADE when he tendered Luke.

    The reality is Dayton Moore tendered Hochevar because he hates giving up on first round picks until they have had every chance to succeed. Also, remember Ned Yost’s comment that Luke has “turned a corner” and will be successful in 2013 made just days after THE TRADE.

    I am sure that Dayton Moore would still like to see Luke make it as a starter but reality says it will never happen. However, I think he will find a successful home in the bullpen. Whether $4.56M is too much for a set up man is another question.

    Most likely Hochevar will find success in the Royals bullpen or be traded at the all star break to a team in contention and needed a bullpen arm.

  • jim fetterolf

    First, I don’t think that Luke never starts again for the Royals, second, the idea of moving him to the ‘pen and working him into closer originated last summer and was based on mid-90s and four or five pitches, and third I think Luke was tendered before Shields and Davis were acquired. Fourth, and we saw it last night, there is still some question as to whether Erv Santana just had a bad year last year or if his arm is breaking down. Fifth, Wade Davis is transitioning back to the rotation and results aren’t guaranteed. Sixth, injuries happen. Hochevar was kept for depth. If everything goes perfectly keeping him was a mistake, but with two weeks left of SP the jury is still out.

    Bullpen seems to be helping Luke, getting more aggressive, pumping up the heater. Since they’ll keep him until a trade, probably the best idea for him/Royals is to work him into set-up/closer and eventually trade him, make him Aaron Crow with a change and curve and cutter. He was hitting 96mph last night and survived a couple of base runners. Thought it a good idea last year, but maybe hard to make the transition mid-season with little rotation depth.

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